A small field of five line up to put their Derby credentials on the line in the Betfred Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield tomorrow, and Mark Duncan tries to point you in direction of the most likely winner!
The Betfred Derby Trial Stakes was downgraded from a Group 3 to a Listed event this year,which came as no surprise with only eight winners going on to achieve victory in the Derby since its first running in 1932. The most recent of those was the Luca Cumani-trained High Rise in 1998. This years race has turned into a five runner tactical affair, and on paper would suggest that the 15 year duck won’t be broken tomorrow. However that’s not to say the five runners are not good quality racehorses in their own right.
Current favourite is Greatwood, trained by the aforementioned Luca Cumani. His form behind Windhoek at Newmarket over 1m2f looks rock solid with Windhoek looking a top quality horse, since winning comfortably off a mark of 104. On that run alone, Greatwood holds a solid chance, and if improving for the additional distance, he could take all the beating.
Second favourite on the tissue is the Aidan O’Brien trained Nevis. He won a weak maiden at Leopardstown, and then raced in the National Stakes at the Curragh in behind Dawn Approach. He never got involved in the that race over seven furlongs, with this longer trip sure to suit. He’s a son of Irish Oaks winner Moonstone, and could easily step up on the National Stakes effort. Aidan O’Brien clearly has his string coming to the boil nicely following a successful Chester May Meeting. At 5/2, he looks short enough to prove whether he can step up on that.
Elidor and Pasaka Boy both look up against it and it would be a massive shock if they took this trial. The final horse in the line-up who certainly deserves a mention is Hughie Morrison-trained Another Cocktail, who is a sister to Irish Derby winner Fame And Glory. His easy victory over 1m4f over C&D was visually impressive, however the quality of the race looks weak.
For me this looks a race for GREATWOOD to lose. He has rock solid form in the book, and with a trainer who knows how to win this race. The early 5/6 on offer has already disappeared, and the value looks to have gone. If he drifts on the day I may have a nibble, but for the sake of value I’ll recommend Greatwood to beat Nevis in the straight forecast!
3.25 Lingfield Betfred Derby Trial Stakes – Greatwood to beat Nevis
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Mark Duncan is back with his preview and tips for the Stanjames.com Chester Cup on Wednesday, which looks set to be a good quality renewal.
The STANJAMES.COM CHESTER CUP (Heritage Handicap) is run over 2 miles 2 furlongs at the charismatic Chester racecourse. It’s always a fascinating race as it attracts the top hunt and flat racing stables which can make it an interesting puzzle to solve. Donald McCain has dominated the past two years, with Ile De Re beating 2011 winner Overturn in a one-two most recently. Donald McCain looks to hold a good chance to land the hat-trick with Ile De Re bidding to retain his crown. However the ground looks to be against him this year, as he’s much better on soft or heavy going. He looks short at 8/1.
There are a few other horses in the line-up that certainly catch the eye – Justification for the Aidan O’Brien yard is likely to be bang there if taking his place. With Ryan Moore booked to ride and Group 1 entries in the Coronation Cup and Ascot Gold Cup penciled in, O’Brien clearly thinks a lot of this son of Montjeu. He looks plenty short enough in the market at 7/1 for what he’s achieved though.
Countrywide Flame is the current 6/1 favourite, and based on the form book, he should take all the beating. He stepped up on all form last season over hurdles, and if reproducing his four and a half length defeat to Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle, he could prove to be the handicap blot of the season off 92. He likes the course (1 win from 1 run) which is always beneficial around the tight bends of Chester; You know he’ll stay which is more than others in the race, and trainer John Quinn has a solid 21% strike rate with his runners at the track (7 wins from 33 runners). Concerns? Well the forecast going of good to firm is a worry – he’s not won on ground better than good to soft. The draw is always a huge obstacle at Chester and can often ruin a horses chance before the race start, so must be taken into consideration when backing at this stage, and finally the long season he’s already had performing at the highest level must be a concern. Despite all of those negatives, I’m still confident of a good showing and at an each way backable price of 6/1 (4 places , ¼ odds), I would not put anyone off having a bet at that price.
Of the other dangers in the field, Simenon and Montaser will be sure to run their race, whilst Olympiad was subject of strong support prior to the Cesarewitch last season, but he failed to shine and is still open to plenty of improvement over this staying trip under a master trainer. I expect him to go off shorter than the 10/1 currently available.
However I will be putting up another selection for the race at bigger odds as a value call. The David Pipe-trained Investissement is currently trading at 25/1 with the sponsor Stan James, and there’s a few reasons why I think he’s been lined up for this race for a while. He was a decent enough juvenile in France, before moving to Evan Williams yard in 2010. He disappointed when pitched into top company for two hurdle runs at Cheltenham, before moving back to the flat with John Gosden. He apparently had breathing problems and also picked up a broken pelvis for his troubles. He then finally showed his quality over staying trips when eventually placing third in the 2011 York Ebor for John Gosden, good enough to have an entry for the Irish St Leger at one stage. He unfortunately picked up another injury after that excellent Ebor run, and after returning to the Pipe stable, straight away there were concerns he wasn’t taking to the hurdling game again. This was proven by three sub-standard runs over hurdles in weak races. It’s no surprise to see David Pipe reverting back to the flat to try and get the best out of him. He runs off a 2lb lower mark than his Ebor third and he gets his preferred good to firm ground.
If there’s a trainer who can ready his horses for the big handicaps, it’s David Pipe. He won the race three years ago with Mamlook, who was a much better horse over hurdles than Investissement, but Mamlook won the Chester Heritage Handicap race off the back of two average runs (beaten 15 and 27 lengths). Investissement comes into the race off the back of three poor runs. He has the useful Willy Twiston-Davies taking off another 5lbs, which means he races off a fly-weight of 8 stone 7lbs. He does have a lay-off to overcome, but he defied a lengthy break to win a Goodwood handicap on his first start for John Gosden. Investissement has clearly had his problems and is difficult to get right, but he looks lined up for a punt for the Pipe yard, and I think the 25/1 will evaporate in the coming days. For the multi-lingual amongst you, Investissement translates to ‘Investment’ in French. This looks like a good Investissement opportunity.
Chester Heritage Cup – Investissement 25/1 EW (Bet with Stan James, 4 places ¼ odds)
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Il De Re wins 2012 Chester Cup www.telegraph.co.uk
David Pipe www.guardian.co.uk
Mark Duncan brings us his tip for the Bet365.com Celebration Chase at Sandown on Saturday afternoon. He’s taking a value play against the front two in the market!
It’s the Bet365.com Celebration Chase at Sandown on Saturday and it looks set to be a great race. There are some top class horses in the field, who without Sprinter Sacre on the scene, could easily have been bigger stars on the chasing circuit. It looks a tricky race to decipher, with the usual fitness and ‘after thought’ questions hanging over many of the key protagonists after the Cheltenham Festival. The Punchestown has certainly been holding the form book well enough at least.
Sanctuaire is current market leader at 3/1 with Bet365.com. He deserves to be head of the market, with some solid performances in behind Sprinter Sacre, and most notably his demolition job in the same race last year. On that form alone he holds a solid chance, but his temperament at the beginning of races and his head pulling antics can certainly make things difficult. I’m certain Paul Nicholls will have been working on this and one things for sure he’ll be improving with time and racing.
Oiseasu De Nuit has been impressive recently for an 11 year old, but looks pitched up against it in this company and at 11/2 with William Hill he looks criminally short in the betting. French Opera is another who merits respect, but once again he’s another at the top end of the age range and at an age of 10 he looks vulnerable to improving types in the line up.
I can’t think of a horse that fulfills his own name such as Wishful Thinking. He’s won top classes along the way, but quite frankly if I was the owner/trainer I’d always be thinking ‘wishful’ rather than hopeful. His breathing problems have been his crux, and if you can forgive his health issues and hope he turns up fit tomorrow, he would hold a solid chance. Would I be interested at 7/2? Absolutely no chance. Lets not forget some of the terrible jumping he throws in which clearly makes his life difficult. Sandown is not the most forgiving course if you’re throwing in jumping errors. Unless he’s been dabbling with the Godolphin kids at Moulton, I don’t think he will be up to winning this race.
That leads me on nicely to my fancy for the race, Finian’s Rainbow. How this horse trades at 5/1 with Bet365 is quite frankly worth celebrating. Connections have made no secret of the fact that this horse needs good ground to be seen at his best, and therefore I’m happy to draw a line through both his Amlin and Ascot Chase performances this season. We did not see him at Cheltenham due to ground concerns, and I’m sure they were resigned to defeat in the Melling Chase this year due to the presence of one horse. Sure, I would have hoped to see a previous Queen Mother Chase winner get closer with his preferred ground, but it’s worth remembering just 20 minutes later the going was changed from good to good to soft. Doubters of the horse would point to his record is much better on flatter tracks such as Ascot and Aintree – but I’m happy to throw his Queen Mother Chase victory back at them with a pleasant ‘no thank you’.
He is trained by a master trainer who knows the time of day on how to ready one for the big day, he has jockey Barry Geraghty on board who has been riding out of his skin this season. The four pound penalty will obviously make life a little tricky, but he looks the value call against the front two in the market and I have him much closer to a 7/2 chance in my book. At ¼ odds for the front three places with Bet365, I’m happy to jump in EW to see he can regain the winning thread from a proven class horse, with the reassurance I know he just needs to hit the front three to make a profit.
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It’s been a while since I’ve written a post regarding my racing thoughts, and with Cheltenham now just a matter of weeks away, I thought it would be apt to share my current ante-post bets for the Festival that should, but unfortunately doesn’t, stop the nation.
The Champion Hurdle is a personal favourite, and after tipping up Rock On Ruby last year, I’ve got a hard act to follow. However, this year I feel it could be Hurricane Fly’s year to take back his crown. He’s looked better than ever this year, and bar any last minute panics (like last year), he should take a whole lot of beating. The untimely death of Darlan was no doubt a huge blow, as he looked to be a credible opponent for the current favourite. But onwards and upwards. I’ve nibbled at Zarkandar ante-post as he’s another personal favourite, but at the current price of 5/1, the EW value has been squeezed out of his price. He’ll be staying on strongly up the hill off a strongly run race, but wether it’s enough to cope with Hurricane Fly’s gears is the major doubt. Rock On Ruby hasn’t reproduced the form he showed last year and with new connections this year, he may struggle. Grandouet could be anything and is too much of a risk with only one run this year.
The Neptune is shaping up to be one of the races of the festival, and Pont Alexandre has been ante-post favourite since mopping up in a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown. The win was visually impressive and Willie Mullins has done nothing but suggest this may be one of the best horses he’s had in training. However I’m happy to take the favourite on, on the basis that the form of that race isn’t strong enough (although the Henry De Bromhead-trained Sizing Gold could turn out to be smart in time). I’m very keen on the chances of the Mouse Morris-trained Rule The World, who was just as visually impressive when beating Minsk (a very solid yardstick) and Champagne Fever out of site. Yes, Champagne Fever didn’t run his race that day (as proven by the fact he reversed the form next time out with Minsk), but Rule The World wasn’t touched that day – he travelled incredibly well throughout the race and was given a mere squeeze by Davy Russell to put the race to bed. He could prove to be a fair bit better on better ground too, and with connections excited about his prospects as a chaser next year, he looks to have plenty in his tank and I’ve been nibbling away at 14′s downwards. He looks to have a great chance to hit the front three in the race if arriving safe and sound. The New One has to be a concern based on the yards bullish comments this week, but at a price of 4/1 the value has all but disappeared.
Sprinter Sacre rates the best win bet of the week, but at 1/4, he certainly isn’t going to make you rich. What does rate as a cracking bet is Sizing Europe EW at 7/1. If turning up for the race (connections currently favour the Ryanair if the going is quicker than soft), there is no doubt he’ll be shorter on the day. I think he’ll be beaten by the better horse on the day, but the Henry De Bromhead charge oozes class with multiple grade one form to his name, and he’ll be giving it his all up the Cheltenham hill.
The Fred Winter looks a poor race by the festival’s standards, but I’m keen to take a punt on Ruacana at 20/1 if he decides on this race as opposed to the Triumph. He is highly regarded by connections and he didn’t travel well when chasing home the smart Our Conor last time out. If he decides to rightly leave the Triumph alone which looks very competitive, he should have the Fred Winter at his mercy. He looks a big price at this risky ante-post stage.
The aforementioned Our Connor looks a very smart type in the Triumph Hurdle, and while much has been made about the soft ground form this season, he could easily improve for a sounder surface, and if there isn’t another gem that’s been kept away fresh, I’m happy with my ante-post wagers. It’s likely he’ll go off shorter on the day, and he could make a competitive looking hurdle race on paper a procession on the day with his superb hurdling ability and turn of foot.
Ahh, the Gold Cup you say. Well I’m a huge Sir Des Champs fan, and I think he looks to have everything in his locker to take the showpiece race of the Cheltenham Festival. Despite jumping poorly and on unfavoured ground, he finished like a train in the Lexus, and his game defeat of Flemenstar next time out highlights the horse’s class. I was on at 7′s after last years foot perfect Jewson performance, and although the EW value has probably gone now, he rates a solid bet. Bobs Worth could turn out to be different gravy, but with so little racing under his belt, I’m happy to take him on at the prices.
So that’s my thoughts so far. Put a gun to my head for the best bet? Our Conor. Best EW bet? Rule The World. Let us enjoy this crescendo to euphoria in the lead up to the Festival. A famous line by Mark ‘Rent Boy’ Renton on Heroin: “Take the best orgasm you’ve ever had… multiply it by a thousand, and you’re still nowhere near it.” Clearly he’d never been to Cheltenham.
Dear valued follower,
Here at the Horse Racing Tavern we’re undergoing some important changes to improve the service we offer you. On Sunday 4th November, we will be launching a brand spanking new website that will require some downtime on Sunday afternoon.
The Horse Racing Tavern website has been running for just over 14 months now and in that short space of time, we’ve made some big strides. We’ve been tipping you some winners, bringing you thought provoking articles from across the industry, bringing you interview sessions with top trainers and jockeys including Paul Hanagan and Tom Dascombe, giving you recorded interviews from the biggest race meetings including Royal Ascot, bringing you international race meeting previews and reviews, bringing you ticket competitions for race courses across the UK including Kempton, Sandown, Ayr, Haydock and more. I’m getting tired just thinking about it.
We currently have 15 hardworking and determined writers/contributors who are the front line in bringing you the great stuff we publish on a weekly basis. We’d like to put out a huge thank you to everyone who has supported the website along the way – whether it’s a weekly read of the website or a retweet on Twitter. To quote a well known supermarket, “Every little helps…”.
As ever, your feedback is always highly valued. So please get in touch with us with any positive or negative feedback with the website. We’re developing some exciting new features and tools that we hope you’ll find interesting and useful.
Mark & Alan
Horse Racing Tavern
Mark Duncan gives us his verdict on the racing at Hereford on Thursday afternoon!
The jumps season is oh so nearly into full swing, but one can’t help feeling jumps fans aren’t allowed to really get exciting about the jumps season until the conclusion of The Breeders Cup. Rightly or wrongly, the Breeders Cup is a love hate meeting. I’m sure I’d be more inclined to be in the ‘love’ category if I was out in sunny California. Billed as the world championships of thoroughbred racing, it’s not hard to see why with $25.5 million in prize money on offer over the two days. However, it would be interesting to see where the Breeders Cup falls in peoples pecking orders compared to the likes of Royal Ascot, Champions Day, the Arc meeting, and dare I say it, Cheltenham.
One piece of news today that really hit home that jumps racing is back, but perhaps never in the same way, was the news of Kauto Star’s retirement – it’s unlikely we’ll see a superstar chaser like him for a while. One hopes Kauto enjoys his retirement, which in my eyes is definitely the right choice by connections. Kauto’s impressive CV highlights one of the most satisfying elements of jumps races – jumps horses are there to win races, not for the next stud fee, as our ante-post tipster quite rightly flagged up (read his article here).
However it’s back down to earth with a bump on Thursday afternoon, with a low key card at charismatic Hereford. That’s not to say that it won’t be any less enjoyable than the start of the jumps season so far, which has seen some exhilarating finishes across the country. The juices are flowing for Cheltenham already. I’ll be kicking off by looking at the 3.00 32RED Mares Handicap Chase, which see five mares lining up to try and take the less than impressive £3,054 prize money home.
Current market leader is Seedless for the Donald McCain yard. The seven year-old mare looks open to plenty of progression over this longer trip, as proven by her facile success at Carlisle two starts back. The form has been franked by the second since, and with the possible excuse of being outpaced over the shorter trip last time out, she holds a favourites chance. She has proven on numerous occasions that shes a really game racehorse, and she’ll be sticking her nose out at the line under Jason Maguire.
I’m happy to draw a line through Lady Karinga who needs a sudden improvement of form to figure and has been done no favours by the handicapper, and Shropshirelass at the bottom of your racecard looks to have it all to do on the figures (7lb out the handicap).
Of more interest is Midnight Macarena of the Lucy Wadham stable. This trip may prove to be on the short side as she appears better over further, but despite the absence of 171 days, there’s a few pointers that suggest she could go well. Lucy Wadham appears to have her stable in decent form so far this jumps season, with 6 runners hitting the frame from 13 runners so far (46% place SR). This trip may also prove the perfect stepping stone for the horse on her seasonal re-appearance, as I’m always of a fan of horses dropped in trip first start as often they’re ‘buzzy’ and run keenly back on the racecourse. Receiving over a stone from Seedless, she could go close. However at the current 11/4 price, there’s not much room to play with in the price. Any market confidence prior to starters orders could prove telling.
But despite the solid profiles of the top two in the market, I’m always looking to squeeze out some value in the field as regular followers will know. Therefore I’m happy to take a play on Misstree Dancer at a more tempting price of 9/2. She’s always looked a much more natural chaser – just over a season ago she was chasing home Gold Cup second The Giant Bolster. She was entitled for her first run this season at Ffos Las, and last time over hurdles she ran as well as expected in a listed race at Sandown. The time before she ran disappointingly at Plumpton – she ran well in the race before losing touch 3 furlongs out, with the stiff finish at Sandown possibly taking its toll whilst being lumbered with top weight. She was well supported on her seasonal re-appearance at Ffos Las, and with that run likely to have blown away any cobwebs, she should be ready to fire at Hereford on Thursday. She’s dropped to a mark of 112, which is the lowest she’s been since March 2010, and has joined Nick Williams’ stable recently, who is operating at a decent enough 13% strike rate with his jumpers so far this season. Misstree Dancer is likely to sit off the pace which will be ideal for Nick Scholfield to get her into a rhythm, and she may be able to creep into contention as the race unfolds up front. She’s a definite boom bust selection, but looks the value call at 9/2 at ¼ odds to hit the front two.
3.00 Hereford Misstree Dancer 9/2 EW (Bet with Paddy Power)
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Mark Duncan returns to the Tavern with three bets from Catterick on Tuesday afternoon!
The 1.20 Go Racing At Wetherby This Friday Handicap at Catterick this afternoon is a decent looking handicap with 5 horses winning once within their last two runs. As ever the ground is going to be a huge influencing factor on Tuesday afternoon, with the current going description as Soft.
Current market leader is Ashpam Sam at 9/2. A largely consistent sort, he gained a deserved success last time out at Bath over 6 furlongs. The concern for me is that he doesn’t have a clinical strike rate, and over a stiff 5 furlongs at Catterick may not prove ideal. He does have the talented Graham Lee in the saddle to aid him, however he’s too short in the betting for me at this stage.
Phoenix Clubs is another consistent sort who appears versatile regarding going, and a last time out victory ahead of re-opposing Economic Crisis confirms he handles the ground. However he has it all to do with a swing in the weights with Economic Crisis. Economic Crisis is a horse who deserves a success after a string of good place efforts for Alan Berry. However I question his resolve in a finish, and it’s worth noting that Pheonix Club’s and Economic Crisis’s first and second came in a 0-75 race at Musselburgh, whereas today it’s a higher rated 0-85 contest.
I’m always a fan of horses that are dropping in grade in handicaps, and one horse that particularly catches the eye is Key Ambition. The 3-y-o has bits and pieces of form – most notably a very solid one and a half length defeat to Ballesteros at Haydock last October on bottomless ground, when formerly trained by Bryan Smart. He finished last season in January with a good second at Southwell, a sharp left handed track similar to today’s course. On his return to the track, he ran well for long enough at Chester (another sharp, left handed track) before fitness took his toll on another day of bottomless ground. He was given a spin around Wolverhampton last time over 6 furlongs. The drop in trip to 5 furlongs 212 yards looks perfect this afternoon, and now dropped in the weights 4lb since his Haydock second, today could be the day to catch him. Gary Moss certainly isn’t a clinical trainer to write home about, but it’s worth noting he’s already achieved half of the prize money he clocked up last season within his first 23 runs this season. This is only Key Ambitions third start for Gary Moss, and for me looks over-priced this morning and for me is a value call at 16/1 in an open handicap.
Another bet I’ll be having on the card at Catterick is the Mark Johnston trained Kingscroft. He won with a certain amount of authority at Musselburgh two starts back, and he was pitched up in grade in a warm handicap at Ascot. He is now only 3lbs higher than when winning at Musselburgh, and with the ever useful Joe Fanning teaming up with the Yorkshire-based trainer, he could make his class count in this field and take all the beating, at a tempting price of 5/1.
The final other bet I’ll be having this afternoon at Catterick is Mohawk Ridge. The 6-y-o gelding has been running over trips that look far too short of his optimum recently, and a step back up today could see him in much better light. He won here off a pound lower mark back in July in soft conditions (as 6/4 favourite), and although he needs to prove himself after two sub-standard efforts, I think he looks primed to run a big race at an appealing price of 7/1.
Key Ambition EW 16/1
Kingscroft WIN 5/1
Mohawk Ridge EW 7/1
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Mark Duncan gives us his analysis and tips for the Arc de Triomphe following an informative day of trials at Longchamp on Sunday afternoon.
The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe markets have really been shook up in the past week or so, and with some clues on offer at Longchamp on Sunday afternoon, the market has begun consolidating. We saw the highly touted Japanese super horse Ovfevre complete a workmanlike yet solid victory in the Group 2 Prix Foy. Despite having a pacemaker in the race, it turned out to be a muddling pace, but he put the race to bed in a matter of strides turning in for the straight. He stayed on as well as could have been expected and galloped on to the line, seeing off the late challenge of Meandre. Connections must have been pleased – it’s a solid yardstick for the Arc, and although not as visually impressive as his victories back in the Far East and the proximity of Joshua Tree slightly concerning, he did absolutely nothing wrong. Lets not forget he’s travelled half way around the world and needed to acclimatise to European surroundings. I’ve thankfully got a few pennies on at 16/1 in the ante-post markets, and he’s now as short as 4/1 favourite with some bookmakers. In my mind, he’s beginning to look plenty short enough, and I’d advise anyone now to take a look for some value in the betting. In my mind, there is plenty about.
There are a few other horses that I believe are over-priced due to the typical over-reaction of bookmakers following trials. I’ve had a small investment on Galikova this morning at 33/1, who is quite frankly superb value. A high class 3-y-o, she won the Group 1 Vermeille last year at odds-on before running a solid enough race in the Arc, without ever really getting involved. She went off at 7/1 last year, and although she’ll have needed to improve on last year due to not getting the weight for age allowance this time around, she looks way to big at 33s. She’s been running some solid races in defeat, including a very warm Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville behind Snow Fairy. She was outpaced that day, despite the fact she had a pacemaker in the line-up. She ran today in the Group 1 Vermeille and although not winning, she ran an eye-catching race. She was boxed in on the rail, and when the eventual splits came, she had plenty to do but stayed on without Olivier Peslier getting too serious in the final furlong. If able to get a slightly better position up with the pace come Arc day (easier said than done!), she could be dangerous at a big price of 33/1.
I’ve been looking at some other protagonists who haven’t run today that I believe offer some value. One horse that I can’t imagine will be out the front four is the reliable Snow Fairy – she gets every yard of the trip and is a delight to follow. Connections must be very pleased with her run last year, and her subsequent victories this term following an injury at the back end of last season are all the more commendable. She’s currently 7/1 in the ante-post market – I can imagine her going off any shorter than 5/1, so in my eyes she’s about right in the market, but I certainly wouldn’t put off anyone having a bet on her nearer the day.
One horse I do think is currently over-priced is the Sea Moon. Sir Michael Stoute has had a relatively quiet season by his standards, but it’s likely Sea Moon will be his number one representative. It’s fair to say Sea Moon still has to confirm himself as a top class Group 1 horse, but in my mind he’s not had the opportunities to do so yet. He’s only lightly raced and it’s likely we haven’t seen the best of him yet.
He was well backed in the King George at Ascot into 2/1 favourite, but he didn’t travel too well and found plenty of trouble in-running from a tough position. But his commanding success in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes before Ascot outlines his quality. His Listed win at the start of the season is all the more impressive after his lay-off and running in the race with unsuitable tactics due to lack of a pace angle. His second to St Nicholas Abbey in the Breeders Cup Turf at the end of last season was solid for just his sixth start. Although he didn’t have an answer to St Nicholas Abbey on the day, he looked open to plenty of improvement this year over 1 mile 4 furlongs. If you’re willing to forgive his luckless run in the King George, he’s done absolutely nothing wrong so far. At 20/1 with Bet365, he could prove to be overpriced. If we hear of some positive training reports prior to the Arc at the beginning of next month, I can’t help feeling he’ll go off much shorter.
It really does look a race full of quality again this year, and it would be folly to ignore the claims of last years winner Danedream, who won in an incredibly quick time last year and won his trial in Germany with enough authority to think another solid run is on the cards. But for now, I’ll be boosting my Arc portfolio with Sea Moon at a very generous 20/1 with Bet365.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – Sea Moon 20/1 EW (Bet with Bet365)
Mark’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Portfolio:
Sea Moon 20/1
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Mark Duncan previews the live action from Ladies Day at Kempton, which features the Group 3 Serenia Stakes and the Group 3 September Stakes.
We kick off with a look at the Group 3 September Stakes, and this has to be one of the classiest fields seen at Kempton all year. Current 7/2 favourite is Dandino, who appeared to be coming back to form recently when second to Quest For Peace last month at Goodwood. This is his first try on the AW, but he’s a class horse and if taking to the surface he could be a big danger. However it’s been a while since he’s had his head in front which has to be a worry (albeit in better races), but I can’t help feeling there’s a bit of value to be had in the field.
Mijhaar is an interesting one for Roger Varian, being highly touted by connections but has already developed an unlucky nickname. If everything were to drop right, he could have a say in matters, but my concern would be he was withdrawn from a race last week based on the ground, and this could be a race to get a run into him. It wasn’t the long term target and for me represents an afterthought. Therefore at 9/2 he’s too short – he may well go in and win but at that price I don’t think it’s value.
The one that caught the eye for me is Fattsota at 16/1 for Marco Botti. The Italian trainer has a solid strike rate at Kempton, and Fattsota represents a progressive sort that looks to have the quality over the longer staying trips. On the face of it, he has plenty to prove, jumping into Group 3 company from winning a class 2 handicap at Ascot. But the at the 1 mile 4 furlongs distance he has finished second and first, and around the sweeping turns of Kempton, it’s likely he’ll be ridden prominently with the pace and look to kick on when the break away comes about 2 furlongs out. He has form at the track before which is one question he doesn’t need to answer like others in the field, and I can’t help feeling if there is a brisk pace up front, it could set it up nicely for stamina strong types in the field, and if so he’d trade much shorter than 16/1 in running.
2.30 Kempton September Stakes Fattsota 16/1 EW (Bet with William Hill)
The Group 3 Serenia Stakes is a teapot looking contest on paper, but I’ll be taking another flyer in the race – Jubilee Brig at 40/1 looks over-priced for a few reasons.
He has course form – he ran second on debut and then won on his third start over 5 furlongs, showing a good turn of foot and battling qualities to hold off Three Crowns. Connections immediately flagged him up as Royal Ascot bound, and he contested a very warm Norfolk stakes. He ran with credit before being outclassed in the end – a tough assignment on just his fourth start.
On his next start, he didn’t get the run of the race, leaving the stalls awkwardly and not settling, but when he got going he made good progress to chase down the leaders that were going away from the field. A very similar story on his last start at York, when running keenly and having to wait for the gaps to appear, but when they arrived he stayed on best of the rest having surely been left too much to do.
A key problem has been his keenness, but if he’s managed to settle, and ridden more prominently up with the pace, he cold prove to be another proposition this afternoon at Kempton. We know he likes the track, he has battling qualities and does have a fair bit of experience in the bag compared to others in this field. He’s another type that needs to step up to take the race, but at 40/1, it’s far to early to be writing him off.
4.10 Kempton Serenia Stakes Jubilee Brig 40/1 EW (Bet with SkyBet)
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkduncanHRT!
We welcome special guest Paul Hanagan to the Horse Racing Tavern for a special Q&A session! We caught up with Paul at Kempton recently and he’s kindly answered some questions about his career to date, should Frankel go for the Qipco Champion Stakes or the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, as well as questions about the future of British horse racing!
When and how did you first get into horse racing?
I started quite late until I first sat on a horse about 12/13 years old. My dad had a brief stint in racing but got out of the game when he was young. He then went to ride out at weekends for local trainer Terry Caldwell in Warrington – I went with him one weekend and kind of got the bug from then on.
You have regularly attributed your early success as a jockey to Richard Fahey – what are some of the key elements that you have learnt from him?
I owe much of my success to Richard Fahey, he helped make me Champion Apprentice in 2002 and Champion Jockey 2010+ 2011. He stuck by me when I lost my claim and I had been with him for 15 years. I think the reason it lasted so long ( it could of been even longer but for obvious reasons) because we were always honest with each other, he taught me not only how to ride a race and to make sure I knew where the winning line was but how to conduct myself with owners etc which has stood me in good stead. I owe it to him that I have one of the best jobs in the world!
You recently became the retained jockey for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum. How has this changed your routine as a jockey?
My routine has changed dramatically, obviously I have moved down south but as where I would be riding out about 7 lots in the morning at Richards and then go racing and may be doing 2 meetings that day! There wouldn’t really be many days like that know, it’s abit more relaxed as now in the mornings I would drive and meet the horses to which ever gallop in Newmarket and meet whichever trainer I’m riding work for and get on and off 2/3 horses about 4 mornings per week. Also, I wouldn’t take as many rides as the last few years because I am retained by Sheikh Hamdan which is good as I can keep myself in good health and be ready for the big days when I ride for Sheikh Hamdan. But the downside is the traveling to races as before when I was based in Malton there were around 12 tracks within about an hours radius. Newmarket isn’t the ideal place for traveling (M25!) but it’s part of the job.
Which ride do you feel is the best ride of your career so far?
If one ride stood out it would be winning the John Smiths Cup on Vintage Premium, I had only just lost my claim and I won by 2 short heads, it’s just what you need after turning pro – he was a very good horse.
Who do you look up to on the racecourse?
I looked up to many people who have been a great help to me over the years mainly in the North, I was apprenticed with Robert Winston when we were at Richards many years ago and he was a great friend and help to me. The likes of Franny Norton, Joe Fanning and Tony Culhane as well, who are still riding better than ever.
The ones who aren’t riding any more but who I most looked up to and helped me a lot were the likes of Johnny Carrol, George Duffield, Kevin Darley…..but I also got many bollockings!
Which race meeting is your favourite and why?
The Ayr Western meeting (Ayr Gold Cup meeting) would be one of my favourites. The atmosphere is electric, and I just clicked with that course from an early age. Also, Richard would send a lot of runners there, so I always have a good chance of having a good day! I think one year I had about 9 winners at the meeting and bagged the Ayr Gold Cup for good measure so you can understand why I like it!
Which racecourse do you enjoy visiting and why?
I love going to Haydock and Chester because they were my local tracks when I was growing up in Warrington.
Which horse do you have a soft spot for?
I always had a soft spot for Fonthill Road who I won 7 times on including the Ayr Gold Cup, he was the most genuine horse and a gentleman who I could of put my young son on and he wouldn’t of battered an eyelid.
Which race would you love to win in the future?
The race I would most like to win is the Derby… Sorry it’s a bit boring but you just can’t beat the Derby!
Who is the biggest joker in the changing rooms?!
Biggest joker in the weighing room would have to be Adrian (Trotter) Nicholls! He’s very funny once he gets on a roll and I was best man for him which was a great day.
If you have a long car journey in front of you, who would you want in the car with you?
For a long journey, I would want my best mates with me – Tony Hamilton for a good chat about football, Tom Eaves, Barry McHugh and you couldn’t forget Trotter!
It’s our round at the bar – what’s your tipple?
Favourite drink would be a Kir Royale…… You can tell I’ve moved down south!!! I first tried it in Mauritius.
Our last 50p goes in the jukebox – what song would you go for?
The song would be Loveshack by the B52s
Is Frankel the best racehorse you’ve ever seen? Which other racehorses stick in your memory and why?
Frankel is by far the best I’ve seen and will ever see but a few that would come to mind would be the likes of See The Stars for all the top class races he won quite easily. Another would be Persian Punch for being so good for the game and feeling the heart of the nation.
Frankel – Arc or Champions Day?
I would love to see Frankel go and win the Arc.
The tough economic times have made it very difficult for trainers to increase or retain owners. What do you think could help drive more owners into the sport?
I think the obvious one to get/keep owners in the sport is prize money, it’s ridiculous at the moment. If it wasn’t for them, we would all be in trouble. We have to look after them better not just make it a very expensive hobby.
Prize money in racing – how do you think the sport could improve the situation in the future?
I think it’s a no brainer to improve prize money, cut the fixture list down, there is far too much racing and bad racing at that.
We thank Paul for kindly offering his time up to answer questions for the Horse Racing Tavern!
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